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Foods For Digestive Health: What To Eat and What To Skip For A Healthy Gut

Published | 5 min read

In case you don’t know: a healthy gut microbiome is a healthy immune system. Navigate the path to a healthy gut with our comprehensive guide on foods for digestive health.

Food for digestive health

The digestive system plays an important role in the body. It breaks down the food you eat into nutrients and energy for the body’s use. This digestive process can be enhanced by the types of food you eat. In the same way, certain foods may cause digestive problems.

It is, therefore, vital to know the foods to eat that will boost digestive health and those which need to be avoided.

Foods To Eat For Digestive Health

Here is a list of foods that you must eat in order to boost your digestive health.

1) Fruits

Fruits are also high fiber containing foods. In addition, they contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients which are good for your digestive and overall health. While apples and bananas are great sources of fiber, care must be taken when eating oranges and other citrus fruits as they may cause hyperacidity and digestive upset.

2) Vegetables

It’s no surprise that vegetables are also rich in fiber. The fiber in veggies promote regularity of bowel movement and prevent constipation. Try eating vegetables with skin, such as potatoes, beans, and legumes to get additional fiber.

3) Seafoods with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A recent study has shown a link between Omega-3 fatty acids and microbial gut diversity. It also prevents inflammation and is good for the heart. Great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, and sardines.

4) Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. These are the good bacteria which can be found in your gut microbiome. Eating these foods increases the concentration of probiotics in your gut. Fermented foods that you can add in your diet include yoghurt, kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, and sauerkraut.

5) Polyphenol-containing Foods

Polyphenols are large plant molecules which are too big to be absorbed in the small intestines and instead are broken down in the large intestines. These molecules not only prevent gastrointestinal disease; it has a positive effect in gut microbial composition, suppresses pathogenic bacteria, and encourages growth of the gut microbiome. Polyphenol can be found in foods like berries, green tea, chestnuts, almonds and soybeans. 

6) Whole Grain Foods

Whole grain foods are noted for their high fiber content. They are digested slowly in the intestines, thus controlling blood sugar levels. Examples of whole grain foods include brown rice and quinoa.

7) Vitamin D Foods

Vitamin D not only supports the immune and nervous systems of the body. They also aid in boosting the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Excellent sources of Vitamin D, aside from getting regular sunshine, include salmon, sardines, trout, eggs, and mushrooms.

Foods To Skip For A Healthy Gut

If you want to improve your digestive health, there are certain foods that you should avoid. Even if you don’t experience gastrointestinal symptoms upon consumption of these foods, it is best to consume them in moderation.

1) Processed Foods

Processed foods are high in saturated fats and sodium. They also contain preservatives and additives. These substances have a detrimental effect on your gut microbiome.

2) Refined sugar

Refined sugar causes disruption in the bacterial balance of your gut by eliminating these beneficial bacteria. This will result in inflammation and other digestive problems. In addition, because refined sugars are rapidly digested in the small intestine, it causes unwanted spikes in your blood sugar level.

3) Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol and aspartame, much like refined sugars, disrupts the balance of bacteria in your gut. It also promotes pathogenic changes in gut bacteria, increasing your risk of inflammation and glucose intolerance, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

4) Dairy Products and Saturated Fats

Dairy products and saturated fats cause pathogenic changes in gut microbes. They also contain lactose, which some people have difficulty in digesting. This lactose intolerance causes digestive issues, such as gas pain, bloating, and diarrhea. A diet high in saturated fats also causes an increase in a bacteria known as Bilophila, which breaks down excess bile and can cause gut inflammation.

5) Gluten

A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, gluten causes gut inflammation in people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

6) Red Meat

Frequent and regular consumption of red meat increases the risk for gut inflammation and colon cancer.

7) Alcohol

Alcohol can irritate the stomach lining, causing inflammation and ulcers. It also increases acid production in the stomach, leading to heartburn and indigestion. In addition, it slows down digestion resulting in constipation. Excessive alcohol intake has a harmful effect on your gut microbiome, which causes digestive problems and lowered immunity.

8) Fructose

Fructose, a sugar which can be found in corn syrup, is a highly processed sugar which is difficult to digest, causing diarrhea, cramps, and bloating. It can cause disruption of the bacterial balance in the gut and induce inflammatory symptoms.

9) Fried Foods

Fried foods are high in unhealthy, saturated fats which has a harmful effect on your gut microbiome and contribute to the development of inflammation.

10) Caffeine

Excessive consumption of caffeine may cause digestive problems, such as heartburn and acid reflux.

11) Spicy Foods

Spicy foods may trigger a variety of digestive issues, including heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It may also result in indigestion among people with existing digestive problems.

Having a healthy gut is essential for your overall health and wellness. Practice making wise decisions about the foods you eat. While you may not be inclined to avoid certain foods that you love to eat, be moderate in your consumption so as not to experience digestive issues.

References

  1. Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio. The Top Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Gut. [Last accessed February 6, 2024]
  2. Medical News Today. Foods that help digestion: What to eat and avoid. [Last accessed February 6, 2024]
  3. Healthline. The 19 Best Foods to Improve Digestion. [Last accessed February 6, 2024]
  4. Patagonia Provisions. The Best (and Worst) Gut Health Foods. [Last accessed February 6, 2024]

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